Efficient Enforcement in International Law

59 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2016

See all articles by Anu Bradford

Anu Bradford

Columbia Law School; Columbia University - Law School

Omri Ben-Shahar

University of Chicago Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2012


Enforcement is a fundamental challenge for international law. Sanctions are costly to impose, difficult to coordinate, and often ineffective at accomplishing their goals. Rewards are likewise costly and domestically unpopular. Thus, efforts to address pressing international problems-such as reversing climate change and coordinating monetary policy-often fall short. This Article offers a novel approach to international enforcement and demonstrates the advantages of such an approach over traditional sanctions or rewards. It develops a mechanism of Reversible Rewards, which combines sticks and carrots in a unique, previously unexplored way. Reversible Rewards require that a sum of money be offered as a reward to the Target for its compliance (Incentive 1). Alternatively, the same amount of money can be used to pay for sanctions in case the Target turns down the reward (Incentive 2). This way, the money earmarked for the enforcement effort "works twice" and thus doubles the Target's incentives to comply. Moreover, Reversible Rewards can be pre-committed in an enforcement fund to solve the problem of credibility. The Article demonstrates that, relative to sanctions or rewards used alone, Reversible Rewards reduce the costs of international enforcement and increase compliance with international rules.

Keywords: international law, international enforcement, reversible rewards

Suggested Citation

Bradford, Anu and Bradford, Anu and Ben-Shahar, Omri, Efficient Enforcement in International Law (2012). Chicago Journal of International Law, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2770689

Anu Bradford (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10009

Omri Ben-Shahar

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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